Falling for Potential

“Well, you’ll never guess who I ran into last night,” I said as I climbed into the comfortable booth in my neighborhood watering hole.

Bree rolled her eyes, took another sip of beer then placed her glass neatly on the coaster, “let me guess . . . was it . . . Caroline?”

“Holy crap, how’d you know?”

“You texted me last night, or don’t you remember?” She was starting to get annoyed by the topic of conversation as we have spoken about it several times.

“Yeah, it was Caroline, but I think it went well. I mean, I don’t know it’s really awkward and all, but everything considered, I think it went well . . . I think.”

“You have got to get over this girl. I mean, I know; I get it. It’s chemical; it’s physiological; it may even be physical, but she’s not the one; she’s not the one; she’s not the one! You gotta get over this!” She finishes her pint, and tries to escape from more conversation on this very tired topic, but I’m not going to let it go so easily.

“You think I don’t want to be over this!?” I asked, “It makes me feel terrible. Caroline and I had something amazing, and then . . . nothing. We were speaking, and then, all of a sudden, we weren’t. I have intense feelings for her that I wish I could explain. I want them to disappear, so that I can go back to being myself when she walks in the room. But the thing is, to me, she’s amazing. She has everything that she needs to go anywhere she wants to go. It kind of makes me sad that she doesn’t realize that.”

Bree looked at me caringly but sternly and proscribed the words that have changed my whole perspective on the matter, “NEVER, fall in love with someone’s potential. Never do it because it will drain you, and you’ll end up with nothing.”

Hmmmm . . . . Well that sounds familiar.

There are two women from my past who have left me shattered, downtrodden, spent, cynical, and just plain exhausted, Nicole and Marcy. Now Caroline, a woman with whom I had a powerful connection, is teetering on being number three.

With Nicole and Marcy, nothing short of destroying the bridge between us was going to remedy my heart, and when I say destroy – let me tell you – I mean destruction of a nuclear proportion. Yes, I did and said things I am not proud of. At the time, however, I felt my actions, however distasteful, rid me of people who hurt me, sapped my positivity, and ultimately let me down time and time again. Great friendships became wastelands – toxic wastelands, and in each case, ultimately it was my fault.

Now I was staring right down the same alley, and it was a dead end. It was frustrating, painful, and it made me feel awkward in places I would normally be at home. I knew it had to end, but the last thing I could tolerate was another wasteland because wastelands are isolating, and a toxic wasteland is worse.
There was no reason Caroline and I can’t be friendly. Caroline didn’t do anything wrong, and that’s what haunts me about Marcy and Nicole. They weren’t bad people. Neither one of them ever really did anything terrible to me; it was how I felt around them. It was both euphoric and tragic; it was like a drug.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, then I was heading toward insanity quickly, but I couldn’t find the common thread until Bree said those words.

Never fall in love with someone’s potential.

After letting those words roll around my head for the next couple days, I found the key to the situation.

I didn’t have strong feelings for who they were; I fell for their potential, and somehow, I think they sensed it, even if they couldn’t put their finger on it. That’s why they all pulled away, and that’s why I felt so much pain. It was disappointment that led me to burn the bridges to friendship, and the pressure I put on them to be something they weren’t which caused them to pull away.

Caroline is a good person, and she deserves good friends. Whether I end up being one of them remains to be seen, but the awkwardness has to go. It’s toxic, and all the toxicity is coming from me because I inadvertently and unwittingly placed pressure upon her.

Never fall in love with someone’s potential.

That revelation has made me realize if Caroline and I are even going to be friendly, I’d better start being friends with her the way she is now, and not more than friends with her potential.

8 thoughts on “Falling for Potential”

  1. The question now becomes if you can abruptly transition to this new way of thinking or will it require a break from your friend? And how to do this without making her feel like the bad guy.

    And while falling in love what what can be is usually a recipe for disaster, some people just need to be in the right situation or with the right person to shine. The gamble lies in the project and if you want to take it on: The Fixer Upper.

  2. Never fall in love with someone’s potential.
    It is better of to be a friend than to fall in love .
    I agree strongly with that Never fall in love with someone’s potential. This may cause trouble .

  3. Falling for someone’s potential is a vicious trap, ultimately it always leads to disappointment as the reality will never live up to the ‘potential’ that you have imagined.

  4. Agreed, potential can often let you down. Take the person at face value, don’t think he’s suddenly going to turn into someone better once you start going out for a while or get married…

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